|‘Birds lucky to have a legendary softball coach for so many years|
|Written by Emily Warner, Daily Vidette Sports Columnist|
|Friday, 10 December 2010 01:21|
There is a certain time of year, around late April, where as I take a step outside and think to myself, “Today, would be a beautiful day to play softball.”
The feeling stems back to my childhood memories where softball was the only sport I played and practices usually started in April.
The game was a passion of mine for 10 years before retiring after high school, but it is still something I hold near and dear to my heart.
Since my freshman year of college, I have had the opportunity to stay closely connected with the game by covering the ISU softball team regularly.
It’s through that chance that I have gotten to watch many games and see ISU head coach Melinda Fischer at work.
This opportunity is more note-worthy now than ever because Fischer is being inducted into the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Hall of Fame today.
With 849 career victories, she is just one of 16 active NCAA Division I softball coaches who has amassed 800 wins. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Fischer’s long list of accomplishments.
Fischer is the winningest coach is Illinois State history and the winningest softball coach in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Since no tribute column could be complete without a quick rattling off of accomplishments…
Fischer is a two-time inductee into the ISU Athletics Hall of Fame, has previously been honored by the NFCA, Valley Coach of the Year six times and has led the ‘Birds to seven post-season appearances. She was also named the MVC All-Centennial Head Softball Coach.
A former Redbird athlete herself, Fischer graduated in 1972 and coached at Eastern Illinois before returning to ISU as co-head coach of the women’s basketball team and then taking over the ISU softball program where she has steered the ‘Birds to 808 wins, including nine MVC and Gateway Athletic Conference regular-season championships.
If ISU were hanging off of a cliff and so was someone else, ISU would help the other one up to expect that once they get to safety they would help ISU up too.
But in the past, this hypothetical person has taken off sprinting to a big platform after using ISU as a stepping stone.
Fischer has done no such thing however as she is a Redbird tried and true.
She even has a tattoo on her tooth of none other than Reggie Redbird.
When I sit on press row at ISU women’s basketball games and glance over to see former women’s basketball coach Jill Hutchison sitting just a few seats down, I look at her banner that hangs in the rafters of Redbird Arena and think, “Wow, I can’t believe I’m sitting this close to a legend.”
The same thought should cross one’s mind when in the presence of Melinda Fischer.
Her, being such a normal person, coupled with the fact that I’ve spoken with her so many times makes it almost easy to forget that she really is a legend in the world of collegiate softball as well as at Illinois State.
Her long-term allegiance with ISU is a rich one that stretches far back and us Redbirds are lucky that it shall continue to stretch forward as well.